When my child’s friends make a mess at my house (and don’t clean up!) it can be hard on our children. Can you relate?
The friends leave and your kids are left with a huge mess, even broken things and ruined toys. Your children whine and complain about cleaning it up or cry that their favorite toys are now broken, but you are trying to teach them the responsibility to either tell their friends to help (or stop doing whatever they are doing), or deal with the mess.
It can be frustrating and can even make you want to stop the play dates all together, but we are here to help. Here are a few ideas for how to handle this:
- Have a 10-minute clean-up as a family before the friend leaves.
- Talk to the friend about cleaning up before he goes home.
- Give a five-minute warning when their parent is on their way to pick up the child. This is when the child will put away what he/she has played with.
- Have a toy basket in each room for visitors. I find that most visitors don’t know where I like to put our toys, so having a toy basket gets it cleaned up enough that I can put them away once they leave.
- “You hold your kids responsible for their friends actions. They will start telling on their friends when things happen, and you can discuss the issue with their parents. My kids must tell immediately if someone has destroyed something or if they are making a huge mess (or not cleaning up). If they do not, they will be cleaning the mess themselves or paying to replace what is broken. Life’s little lessons!” ~Jasmine Israel
- “We had a bad problem with one of our kids friends coming over and was making GIANT messes and being really mean on the trampoline I told him multiple times, “We don’t fight like that someone’s going to get hurt.” Finally, I just took him home and told his parents he couldn’t come back until you learn to be nice and respect our property… the next time he came over he was really nice.” [This could work if the friend won’t clean up after they play.] ~Jennifer S.
- “I make it clear to all my children’s friends that ‘This is my house, my rules. I don’t care what you get to do in your house, if it’s not acceptable in my home then it doesn’t happen.’ We have only ever had a few mishaps when the girls where younger. Their friends also know that I will discipline them in my house if need be. If they have friends that won’t listen, I only have play dates when the parents can come, as well. ~Lora Jeff
- “When a new friend comes by let them know the house rules right from the beginning. Check on them frequently. That’s a lot to put on a small kid to be in the parent roll. They won’t be able to enjoy playing with their friends if they are worried about cleaning up their friend’s mess after. And don’t always think it is the “other” kids. Often our own will behave differently while finding their way also with new friends. I’m now caring for my grandchildren and over the years I watched too many Mother’s have the “not my child” attitude. I agree you should teach your children to abide by the rules and if there is something going on that could cause someone to get hurt then they should let an adult know. But it’s a fine line to have them become known as tattle tales. I personally think you need to teach them discretion. If they come running for every little thing in fear of being punished themselves you may end up ostracizing your own child from their friends. Like many things in raising children there is no one right answer. I’ve always gone on the basis for my own children that you are responsible for your actions and decisions. And with them you will either have a positive or negative outcome. Good Luck young Moms… it’s not easy.” ~Kathy Gengler
- “Kids are rough and crazy. Mine are just 2 and 4 and they’re nuts! So I can’t speculate too much, but here’s what I’d do in that situation…Before friends come over, talk with your boys and make sure they hear the rules/boundaries. And they’re responsible for their friends actions in your home. If their friends make a mess and break stuff, they get in trouble. Not the friends. I’d have a conversation with the friends parents, telling them their behavior and if it continues, they’re not allowed over anymore. It’s their parents responsibility to punish them, if they do. But don’t let those kids just walk all over you in your house. They need rules, especially if their parents aren’t doing so. If it’s so bad, stay in the same room and watch them.” ~Stacy Zubbilis
- “Talk to your kids before anyone steps foot in the house about rules. They will learn as long as you’re willing to teach them. Also just because kids are playing doesn’t mean you leave them unattended for more than five minutes at a time. When my son (ten years old) has anyone over, I’m always close by. I can remind them to clean up when they move onto another activity and I can monitor the conversations.” ~Lenore C.
- “State your expectations up front! I do this every time my kids have friends over! I also tell them this is their home and to respect it! They are responsible for keeping their friends in check and asking them for help throughout the playdate to clean one room before moving to the next! If things get broken, they can’t have friends over!” ~Nora R.
- “When my kids were little I always had house rules..and made sure they all knew it. I would always start with, “I know you kids (all included, company and my own) love playing and you guys have had so much fun that it makes me wish I was a kid again, but, we have rules to follow and they aren’t very hard to follow, but the last time __and___ got broken. You also left us with a giant mess. They can’t happen again. Before you leave today, we will walk from room to room and clean up our mess.” ~Nancy R.
- “You need to tell them exactly what you want. Explain that this is your families home and it needs to be respected and this needs to begin with your little ones 1st. They need to know that if they want company over, that there are rules and they WILL be followed! If they choose to not follow them, then the privilege will unfortunately be taken away. I have 2 little ones too, things sometimes happen I get that. However, they have to be the example as to what is acceptable in your home. This should also include honesty. This will also help you when they are guests at others homes. The last thing you want is for them to think it is ok to disrespect (even unintentionally) others homes. A sit down with your little ones will probably be in order, but if you relate it to things like their toys or treasures being ruined or broken they will get it!!! LOL!! Don’t worry Mom, You Got This!” ~ Sabrina Corleto
In the end, remember that soon play dates won’t be as messy, when they are playing video games or sitting around talking… those are the days when we will wish to see blocks and stuffed animals lying around. Talk with your kids and their friends, so you can all enjoy this time while it lasts. For more parenting ideas, visit our Facebook page.